The allure of a fresh new start may be too tempting to resist if you’re ready to break free from a miserable job. But before you embark on a complete career change, it’s worth checking that making a switch will truly make you happier, instead of creating a whole new set of problems. To demonstrate our point, here are five situations in which a career change is a bad idea.
When your job has become mind-numbingly predictable, diving into a new career can feel like a great solution to your problem – especially if the career you have in mind is exciting and involves lots of travel and meeting new people. However, all jobs have some degree of repetition and involve doing boring tasks, which means that responsibilities that appear exciting during the first few months in a role can quickly grow monotonous once the honeymoon period is over. This is particularly true if you’re someone who needs new stimulation and challenges on a regular basis.
Solution: Speak to your manager about how to switch up your current role. Think about what exactly you would need to feel more interested in your job (be that the opportunity to travel more, lead projects, work on a different team or learn new skills) and then discuss how these things can be added to your current job.
You haven’t tried doing your ideal career
Unless you’ve rolled up your sleeves and spent time working in the career field you’ve got your eye on, there’s a high probability that what you think it will be like is far removed from reality. When Kate Moss briefly quit modelling in 2000, she told Time Out magazine that she hated her job and described modelling as “mind-numbing, repeating yourself like Groundhog Day”, yet to many people, the jet-setting lifestyle of a supermodel may seem glamorous and exciting. Our point? Don’t throw away the career you currently have in pursuit of a career you have no first-hand experience of… you may get a nasty shock once you start that ‘dream’ job.
Solution: If you have a specific career in mind, try it out before quitting your current job. You can do this by volunteering, using some of your annual leave to do work experience, shadowing someone in that industry for a couple of days and speaking openly with people who like and dislike working in your dream industry – these are the best ways of discovering the good, bad and ugly of working in your dream industry or role.
You hate your boss or colleagues
It’s true that some industries seem to attract a disproportionate amount of odious, egotistical individuals, but no industry is exclusively made up of these types of people. Similarly, no industry is totally free from annoying bosses and colleagues. If your current work misery is down to the people you work with rather than the work you do, the answer is simple… move companies, not career fields.
Solution: Avoid ending up in another nightmare situation by carefully vetting companies before you accept a new job. Check out reviews on Glassdoor: does the company have multiple negative reviews and complaints about problems that are similar to the ones you’re finding upsetting at your current company? Look at past employees’ LinkedIn profiles: do many seem to leave within a year? These are signs that the company has serious problems with its culture.
You’re close to burning out
If you’re overloaded with work and struggling to find work-life balance, you may have daily fantasies about moving to a career field in which the work day ends at 5 pm and you have your weekends to yourself. But just as quitting your career to get away from annoying colleagues isn’t an effective solution if you like your actual job role, jumping ship because of a heavy workload is also a bad idea. That’s because the problem at hand isn’t the work you’re doing, it’s the amount of it and a lack of boundaries between your work time and personal time. This is something that can be remedied by speaking with your boss or moving to a company that prioritises work-life balance.
- Review how much of your workload is self-prescribed: is the extra work you’re doing compulsory or do you struggle to leave work at work? If it’s the latter, you may need to sit down with a friend or coach and draft ways of creating clearer work-home boundaries.
- If the extra work is compulsory, document the factors that are contributing to your misery (unexpected overtime, projects, additional responsibilities etc.) and then make your case to your boss. Be sure to have a few ideas about how you can improve your workload before speaking with your boss – you want to be seen as taking a proactive approach rather than just complaining.
- Be prepared to start looking for another less demanding, but similar, role if your boss is unsympathetic or if you knew the job would be all-consuming when you accepted to do it.
You’re badly paid
Some industries are notorious for being badly paid: academia, journalism, teaching… to name a few. And while your love for the job may have been reason enough to overlook a low salary earlier in your career, if you now have financial responsibilities that your paycheck just can’t cover, it’s clear that a change is needed. However, before picking a better-paid field and getting to work on a career switch, it’s important for you to really think about if you’re happy to go down a different career pathway solely for money.
Of course, if you don’t like your current job or career, this is less of an issue, but if you’re already doing work you love, and feeling fulfilled is important to you, you may find that the misery that comes from doing a well-paid job you hate is greater than the upset you’re currently experiencing.
Solution: Start by asking yourself if you’d stay in your current job if it was better paid. If the answer is yes, you don’t need a new career, you need more money. You can achieve this goal by doing your job in a more lucrative sector, working for a private company instead of a public one or supplementing your income with a side-hustle e.g. part-time consulting or freelance work.
Do you want to know for sure if you really need a career change or just to change jobs/companies? Check out our ultimate new job versus new career cheat sheet.
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